Henry McNeill was born in the coastal village of Glenarm on February 14, 1836, and later moved to Larne Town in 1853 to start his own business in the tourism industry. He believed that the Antrim Coast was a spectacle that needed to be shared with the world.
McNeill’s tourism business started as a hotel caterer and travel tour company, but as the development of the Larne Port and the Railway Line from Belfast to Larne progressed, so did tourism to Larne. The rail line helped McNeill forge his tourism empire.
At one point, McNeill had over 200 horse-drawn jaunting cars transporting groups of tourists up and down the Antrim Coast daily for tours of the Giant’s Causeway, Glenariff Forest, Gleno Waterfall, and the Gobbins Cliff Path on Islandmagee.
He built his own hotel empire and became one of Ireland’s biggest hoteliers almost overnight, with grand hotels such as the Laharna Hotel and McNeils Hotel in Larne. McNeil was a pioneer of the Package Holiday (Hotel, Food, and Things to do) which earned him the title, “The Father of Irish Tourism.”
McNeill died after falling ill and is buried at McGarel Cemetery in Larne Town.
Know Before You Go
Make your way to Larne town via bus, car, or train, and then travel along the Old Glenarm Road until you reach Greenland Park/ Boyne Square area of the town. McGarel Cemetery is located on the left-hand side.